The Manager’s Biggest Challenge… Balance

Charlie NewsletterAs a service manager where should I spend my time and focus?

  • Customer relations (CSI and heat cases)?
  • The repair process and technician communication?
  • Interacting in the service drive with the customers?
  • Training?
  • Expense control?
  • Facility maintenance?
  • Managing the service processes and the results?

The simple answer…YES!

All of these tasks, and more, are very important parts of a manager’s responsibilities. But, without balance and priorities, most of this is just minutia. The trap that many (or most) managers get into is a “reactive mode,” rather than the “proactive mode.”

In most service departments, the orders of priority for these tasks are pretty much in the order presented above (1-7).In fact; many managers spend 60-80% of their time dealing with the top 3: Customer relations, the repair process, interacting in the service drive. The concern with this order is there is one that can have a significant impact on the other six, yet it is typically number seven: “Managing the service processes and the results.”

The Business Dictionary defines “Management” as: “The organization and coordination of the activities of a business in order to achieve defined objectives.” Chaos is not organization or coordination! Every business deserves to have a structure and clearly defined definitions of the processes required to support that structure.

  • What if we had structure that assured accountability for each employee’s role in the service process?
  • What if we had written processes to describe how most situations are handled by employees?
  • What if we had tools in place to assure that management knew how well employees were performing their designated tasks?
  • What if the manager, consistently, used these tools to provide feedback to each of the employees?

If we did, could these structures and processes impact…

  • Customer Relations?
  • The repair process?
  • Interaction in the service drive?
  • Training?
  • Expense control?
  • Facility maintenance?

Very successful managers begin with structured, well trained processes, and then create a check-and-balance system to assure compliance. Think about this, for instance:

The average technician (50% +/-) will tell you that they don’t like to perform multi-point inspections. Typically, when asked why, they will respond with: “They’re a waste of time, because I don’t get paid and the advisors don’t sell the recommended services.”  Now, we know that this may just be a perception as to whether the advisors sell or don’t sell the items, but perception is reality to your technicians. When you drill down on the technician’s concerns, you’ll generally find that they are more than willing to perform the inspections if there will be genuine attempts to sell. You do this by process. A process to assure that the inspection results are being presented to the customer, and a process is useless unless there are checks-and-balances to assure their compliance.

This inspection scenario is only an example of the many processes that need to be in place to assure a smooth running service department. How about these other processes?

  • The appointment process
  • The write-up/walk-around process
  • A process to assure that the advisor contacts the customer pro-actively, at an agreed upon time
  • A dispatch process to assure that the advisor can contact the customer proactively
  • A process to assure that the advisor is engaged with the customer at pickup (active delivery)
  • A process to assure that technicians are producing at their maximum potential

All of these processes require checks-and-balances to assure compliance and feedback. Our experience is that if many of these processes are in place, monitored and counseled, most of the other tasks’ that a manager occupies his or her time on, take care of themselves or require minimal attention.

At this point, the challenge is two-fold:

  • How will I find time to implement these processes, much less monitor them?
  • Do I really have the ability to manage my people?

Get help! Remember, the definition of insanity: “Doing things the same way, expecting different results.”  Unfortunately, many dealerships have been taking the insanity route for decades! It can be different.

Very successful managers have sound processes and structure and spend a large amount of their time managing the results. Very successful managers typically enjoy what they do because they are not overwhelmed with problems every-day-all-day.

Less successful managers spend most of their time putting out fires and whatever else comes their way. Less successful managers typically hate their jobs because of the unbelievable stress associated with the problems.


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